Mid-to-late September used to be about back-to-school for the younger set, and Fashion Week for the fashion elite. This year, both of those occasions will take place virtually, as the fashion industry continues to reckon with ways to get apparel in front of influencers, the media and the consumer.
Enter virtual fashion shows. They have been in vogue since the pandemic started and now they’re ramping up again. In an example of using technology to get the fashion business back in touch with its retailers, FashionGo, a B2B wholesale online marketplace, has announced its inaugural “FashionGo Week,” a two-week online trade show.
The event, which will take place Aug. 24 through Sept. 6, will consist of a webinar series with fashion industry leaders and live interviews with executives from some of the trendiest brands, as well as a backstage look into the individual season collections from 20 brands.
Another virtual trade show company, NuORDER, is also attracting attention and major clients as the Fashion Week season approaches. Its Coterie event, which will last through the whole month of September, has attracted a good number of high-fashion clients, including Brunello Cucinelli.
“As a company, we prefer the in-person selling experience, but we understand the delicate moment,” Massimo Caronna, president of Brunello Cucinelli North America, told Vogue. “We were very fortunate to have the support from Brunello in Italy, who made sure our showrooms were equipped with both new technology support and also the spring 2021 collection in time for market. Having the product and our sales team working virtually with our buyers and clients around the U.S. was a wonderful exercise of creative and efficient collaboration.”
According to WWD, the six-day New York Fashion Week will run from Sept. 11 to Sept. 16. The event has now shifted to YouTube livestream and is entirely focused on eco-friendly practices, which includes a spotlight on upcycling, student designers, vintage collectors and the full life cycle of garment production. “Billing sustainability as the ‘future of fashion,’ the event is differentiated by its immersive online experiences spanning panel conversations, documentary features and instructional workshops,” says the fashion trade.
However, not everyone in the fashion business is sold on the virtual substitution. The mid-July Paris Fashion Week, for example, was digital – and the fashion trade press wasn’t exactly enthusiastic.
“Even before the issue of how to mount a fashion show during a pandemic came into focus, the industry was facing a reckoning,” according to the Robb Report’s take on the Paris event. “Closures necessitated by COVID-19 meant that production was paused, orders were canceled and profits were slashed. There have been bankruptcies and sudden farewells (Neiman Marcus & Bergdorf Goodman, Brooks Brothers, Moda Operandi’s men’s business…to name a few). The veneer of stability quickly eroded, and the issues that have been plaguing fashion for years became glaringly apparent. A combination of pressure for continual novelty, overproduction and a retail delivery schedule that has parkas hitting stores in August and bathing suits arriving in December has added up to a business model in which no one wins, except maybe the shopper who nabs a Moncler coat at 70 percent off in January — when they actually need it.”